Prof. Zhiyong FAN Led His Team to Craft a "Super Human Eye" that Works Like the Real One

A research team led by Prof. Zhiyong FAN has developed an artificial visual system that uses a spherical biomimetic electrochemical eye with hemispherical retina made of a high-density perovskite nanowire array. 

In the interview conducted by School of Engineering, Prof. FAN further elaborated his starting point of creating the "Super Human Eye", "In 2012, I came up with the idea to use nanowires and external electronic circuitry to enable high-density sensors on curved surface. The resulting biomimetic eye prototype, with distance among sensing rods minimized to three micrometers, has 30 times more sensors on the artificial retina than the real human eye. This super human eye technology, with high imaging resolution, will be ready for integration into medical robots to take care of patients. It will even cater to the visually impaired when we find suitable bio-compatible materials." 

The research paper "A biomimetic eye with a hemispherical perovskite nanowire array retina" was recently published in the first-rate science journal Nature

Dr. Leilei GU, the first author of the paper, is currently a postdoctoral fellow in Prof. FAN’s team. He recalled the biggest challenge upon receiving the Nature's editor's response on their research manuscript, "it then took us almost a year to fine-tune our research, redo experiments and re-submit the paper with much enriched content based on their queries. The biggest challenge was to scale down the microns, and that alone took us 10 months working 24/7. After numerous failures and bearing tremendous pressure, our efforts paid off."

Prof. FAN is Professor of the Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering.  His research interests include nanoelectronic design, nanofabrication and nanomaterials. He received PhD degree from University of California, Irvine in 2006 in Materials Science.  He joined the Department in 2010.  Over the past 10 years, Prof. FAN was recognized with IEEE Sensor Research Scholarship Award, Berkeley Sensor & Actuator Center’s (BSAC) Outstanding Research Presentation Award, HKUST School of Engineering’s Young Investigator Award and Research Excellence Award, to HKUST-Sino One Million Dollar Entrepreneurship Competition’s President Award and Innovation Award.  


[Latest Update on 9 Feb 2021]  The research work on bionic eye has been selected as Top 10 Research Progress on Semiconductors in China for 2020. The top 10 was selected by a panel of 43 experts in the field, organized by Journal of Semiconductors, which is a flagship journal on semiconductors with over 40 years history in China. The work received the highest votes tie with the memristor work done by Tsinghua University. 

The work was also selected as Top 10 Innovation and Technology News in Hong Kong in 2020.


The Paper

Nature A biomimetic eye with a hemispherical perovskite nanowire array retina


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Prof. Zhiyong FAN's Biography


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From left: Swapnadeep PODDAR (Year-1, PhD student, HKPF awardee), Lei SHU (Year-2, PhD student), Daquan ZHANG (PhD graduate), Prof. Zhiyong FAN (Professor), Dr. Leilei GU (Postdoctoral fellow) and Zhenghao LONG (Year-1, PhD student).


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The "Super Human Eye" uses a spherical biomimetic electrochemical eye with hemispherical retina made of a high-density perovskite nanowire array.


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Prof. Zhiyong FAN and his research team.



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